Sometimes life just throws you some curve balls, so I called in a few relief pitchers for your enjoyment over the next few weeks. A beautiful gift in my inbox, today’s post reminded me of how truly inspiring my friends are. I hope you enjoy this post by Courtney C. as much as I did…
How I knew he was the one:
My dad always used to tell me he wouldn’t pass judgment on the men I chose, because “when you think you’re in love, you’re in love.” So true, but you can absolutely be “in love” with someone who doesn’t make a good partner for you. And no matter how much you love that person, or even how much they love you back, it still doesn’t make it a good, healthy relationship.
I knew J was “the one” when …the relationship started really working as this separate entity unto itself – when I didn’t feel like this one individual trying really hard to commit my life to someone else and be a good wife. I’d been someone else’s wife before, so I had something to compare it to, and with J it felt like something that worked on it’s own, without me having to hover around worrying and always doing the right thing to keep everything in a good place.
Now I tell my friends, “I don’t care about his qualities. Of COURSE you’ll pick a guy who has great qualities. Find me a woman who DOESN’T want a guy she finds handsome, smart, kind and funny. I care more about the quality of the relationship.” The bottom line is you shouldn’t just be with the guy you imagine, you should be in the type of relationship you imagine, so start dreaming of what that relationship feels like so you’ll know if you’re inside it.
Why I know our relationship will last:
Relationships are hard because life is hard. I’m very lucky in that even though my life sometimes intrudes its unwelcome drama upon my just-shy-of-one-year-long marriage, it’s LIFE making my relationship hard, and not vice versa. (And yes, I’m looking at some of you out there who seem to thrive on the inverse situation. Can you feel my big hairy side-eye being given to you right now?)
In the past two months, J and I have had to deal with more drama than most couples have to deal with in their first few decades together, and we’ve been forced to weather it with less than a year of marriage under our belt. Talk about initiation by fire. Two months ago, after celebrating 5 years cancer free, my surgeon called with more bad news. The scans that were supposed to let me off the hook and give me reason to celebrate 5 healthy years instead found a congenital defect in my brain. I had to urgently find a neurosurgeon, fly across the country for consultations, decide on a course of action, find people to take care of all our pets, choose a short hairstyle that would hide the bald spots, and in the middle of the mayhem not forget to hold my husband close every night and whisper to him (as though saying it out loud would make it true) that I was going to come out the other side alive and the same person I’ve always been. No brand-new husband should worry that he’s going to have to spoon feed his wife for 50 years.
Some days he was my rock, and some day I was his. Some days we both just cried together, when I was hurting physically and it killed him emotionally. And some days we snapped at each other, because waking up every 90 minutes to take a handful of pills will give even a saint a short fuse. But neither one of us is too proud to say I’m sorry (and we try to say it before too much time has elapsed).
For a couple who can and does talk about everything, the hardest part for me was that the experience of spending days in the hospital and going through so much pain was something I had to suffer alone. I usually share my burdens with J, and though he was the perfect support system, I still had to be the one to endure painful IVs burning through my arms, spasming limbs from not being allowed to move for fear of throwing a clot, and headaches that left me in a nauseated heap on the floor. J couldn’t suffer that in my place, though I know he would have done it in a heartbeat. And – in my pain – I was so jealous of him for feeling fine while I was in pain. Senseless and juvenile, I know, but I was pissed at him for being healthy.
Back home, he’s been patient and kind with me as I heal. He has to drive me everywhere until I’m off medications and the risk of seizures has passed. He has to handle tons of stuff for my nonprofit as I don’t have enough stamina even to sit at my desk and focus for a full 8 hour workday. He has to come running into the kitchen every time my even-more-klutzy than normal body drops something or forgets where something is stored.
I set myself up for success in this marriage by choosing a loving, kind, huge-hearted man, and I try every day not to screw it up by forgetting to tell J how amazing he is. We give one another the benefit of the doubt, we talk through even the most minor of slights or hurt-feelings, and we kiss as often as possible. I think HE is the most selfless human in the world, and he thinks I am, so in trying to deserve one another, we’ve each given more to one another than in past relationships. And maybe, just maybe, when we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, I’ll figure out how I got so lucky to be so loved.